Sisters (1973) Brian De Palma

sistersBrian De Palma admittedly has been tapping into Alfred Hitchcock since his earliest works going back as far as Murder a la Mod in 1968. However, many other filmmakers have drawn inspiration from or just plain copied the master of suspense over the years including Henri-Georges Clouzot (Diabolique), Jonathan Demme (Last Embrace), Francois Truffaut (Mississippi Mermaid), David Fincher (Panic Room), D.J. Caruso (Disturbia) and  Woody Allen (Match Point) just to name a few. It’s difficult to make a suspense film without leaning at least a bit on the master.  De Palma’s second foray into Hitchcock’s world came in 1973 with Sisters. After a series of low budget independent films: the previously mentioned Murder a la Mod, The Wedding Party, Greetings and Hi Mom! De Palma signed up with Warner Brothers to make the social satire, Get to Know You Rabbit. Creatively and financially it was a dud. Continue reading

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Casualties of War (1989) Brian DePalma

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   I always have this emotional punch in the gut when I watch Brian DePalma’s Casualties of War.  It leaves me drained and brings back memories that are best left forgotten. I was not in the “front lines” in Vietnam but the exposure to war for any nineteen year old, no matter what your situation, leaves disturbing memories and worst for a lifetime. Continue reading

Dressed to Kill (1980) Brian DePalma

Of all the filmmakers who came to be collectively known in the 1970’s as the movie brats, Brain DePalma was the one who liked to push most the cinematic buttons of both critics and audiences. He delights in making his audience uncomfortable. With a sardonic wit and an ice cold point of view, DePalma has never been a middle of the road filmmaker, critics and audiences either love his work or hate it. He is viewed as either a violent, immoral rip-off artist who hates woman or a visionary artist who flies in the face of conservative thinking enjoying the shock and loathing his films have sometimes unleashed over the years. The more uncomfortable the audience is the better DePalma likes it. Like Alfred Hitchcock, DePalma’s films are planned well in advance with each detail written into the script. What you read is what you get, little changes.  Editing is just putting the finished pieces together and not an exploration to potentially discover alternative new themes or ideas during the process.

Like Hitchcock, Brian DePalma’s films are a voyeurs’ delight. Examples abound, the slow motion dream like opening shot of the girls’ locker room in “Carrie” or the TV game show called “Peeping Tom” in “Sisters.”  In one of his earlier films, “Greetings” Robert DeNiro’s character is a porn filmmaker and in “Body Double,” Craig Wasson’s Jake Scully watches a beautiful, sexy neighbor undress in front of her window. Hitchcock himself gave us “Psycho” where the camera works its way into a hotel room catching Sam Loomis and Marion Crane finishing up a lunch time affair and later just before Norman murders Marion Crane he is seen watching her through a peephole in the motel room next to hers. Hitch also gave us the ultimate voyeur movie with “Rear Window.” Continue reading